Forecast: Breezy With a Chance of Hail and a Rocket

If NASA's rocket launches successfully, New England will get a brief show in the sky Tuesday evening

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Could the fourth time be a charm for the launch of the Black Brant XII rocket for NASA? 

After a delay last week due to thunderstorms, and two more delays Saturday and Monday nights due to unfavorable upper level wind, the next opportunity is this evening, Tuesday, at 8:05p.m. with a 40-minute launch window. 

The delayed shuttle launch will work in New Englanders’ favor if it does, indeed, take off tonight – we’ve been mostly cloudy for the last three opportunities but this evening there’s a good chance many communities would have a view of the shuttle in the southeast sky. 

Early clouds in New England Tuesday morning gave way to strengthening sun but with a several upper atmosphere disturbances moving through the sky above, new clouds will bubble in the sky Tuesday afternoon, dropping scattered showers in Northern New England and a few sprinkles possible south. 

In Maine, showers developing in cold air aloft will find enough ice crystals atop the clouds to produce some lightning strikes, graupel (soft snow pellets) and hail. It’s northern New England that will find the slowest retreat of clouds as we head toward launch time this evening, though deeper into the evening – closer to midnight – a round of clouds and sprinkles is possible in far southern New England with another disturbance aloft. 

Dry air at ground level means once skies clear for good after midnight, temperatures will fall easily, dropping to either side of 40 degrees for a crisp but sunny start to Wednesday. 

Yet again, Wednesday brings another disturbance that will build large, puffy clouds, eventually growing heavy enough by afternoon to drop scattered showers with a few rumbles of thunder, this time perhaps into southern New England including much of eastern Massachusetts. 

With the passage of that last gasp of strong energy and cold air aloft, the path will be cleared for a great day Thursday with temperatures rebounding to around 70 degrees, likely to repeat Friday even with increasing clouds. 

Another round of disturbances aloft cross the sky of New England this weekend, elevating our chance of showers during each afternoon Saturday and Sunday, but neither day right now looks like a washout, leading to a continuation of spring temperatures heading into next week in our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast.

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